Costa Rica is a fantastic place to travel to whether you’re planning on vacationing there, working overseas there, retiring overseas there, studying abroad there or just moving back home to your native country.
From its beaches, to its mountain views and volcano, to its biodiverse rainforests, to its laid back urban scenes, Costa Rica has something for just about anyone and for just about any budget.
Whatever your reason for moving to Costa Rica is, here are 8 important things you need to know before making your move abroad.
Unlike many other similarly located countries, the water is safe to drink in Costa Rica. If you plan to live or venture out to remote, rural areas though, do make sure you have bottled water arranged or with you as water in these parts may not be as safe to drink.
If you’re planning on moving to Costa Rica, you may already know this but it is worth mentioning again. You will get a terrible rate (almost 60 to 70 colones less than the current exchange rate) when you exchange money at the airport.
Most other places will charge a fair rate (within 5 colones of the listed exchange rate) so wait until after you leave the airport to exchange any money.
Again, if you’ve already visited Costa Rica you may know this, but for the uninitiated, red taxis with the yellow triangle on the sides are the licensed taxi drivers in Costa Rica. At the airport taxis may be orange but those will charge a much higher rate.
Very often you’ll see red cars appearing to be taxis but these are not registered taxis — instead these are just car owners seeking to make extra money hauling people around. Most of these drivers are ok, but it’s always better to seek out a real taxi as you will get a better rate.
Like most places in the world if you go out to eat at a restaurant, chances are you’re going to spend a lot more per meal than if you would have dined at home.
However, Costa Rica has inexpensive eateries called “sodas” where you can get a nice local meal for around $2 to $4 dollars. That usually includes a main dish served with rice and beans along with a drink and a small dessert. Not bad for only a few dollars!
Note: While most sodas are run by nice, honest people, mistakes do happen so do check your bill before paying.
The city of San Jose and Costa Rica in general are safe when it comes to crime (especially when compared with crime in the U.S.). If you’re in and around most cities you will see a lot of police, working in pairs, which helps with the most common crimes of pickpocketing, petty theft and car theft.
As with any place in the world, if you find yourself in the wrong place (no police around) and the wrong time (most likely at night), there’s always a greater chance of something happening.
Most Costa Ricans are very friendly and will try to help you if they can. Many will be very eager to help you find a store or street if you’re walking around.
While most Costa Ricans or “Ticos” as they call themselves have a good understanding of English, they are always going to be more comfortable speaking in their native tongue (much like we do in the U.S. or U.K.).
Even if you have a working knowledge of Spanish and only know a few words or phrases, you’ll find that you’ll get much faster responses when travelling around Costa Rica.
If you’re planning any international move abroad, be sure to find a moving company that will thoroughly answer your questions (tip: read our blog How To Pick The Best International Moving Company In The USA to learn what to look for in an international moving company), and has Spanish speaking staff to help coordinate fluently with local shipping companies.